Time out for the future

I think I’ll stop taking my own advice.
For years, I taught and coached people in time management. Over those same years, it seems I had less and less time.
I’ve had to remind myself often to practice what I preach–and I do. As a result, I really do get more done in the same amount of time–but I’m still rushed.
How about you?
Margaret Visser writes in enroute magazine, “The perception that we have no time’ is one of the distinctive marks of modern western culture.”
Some results are:
•reduction of politeness to bare minimums;
•need for speed, which gives rise to products like fast foods, cars, and many labour-saving devices creating waste and pollution; and
•a vicious circle of feeling anxious and hurried, therefore buying and paying more, and in turn feeling pressured and exhausted–and all that stimulates the economy!
How did this come about? Apparently it started with the invention of the watch about 500 years ago. Before, people told time by the sun. That wasn’t terribly accurate but it suited hunting-and-gathering and agrarian societies.
Later, some people had clocks in buildings and could tell time indoors. But it wasn’t until people strapped watches on that the “rate race” began.
Here are some developments:
•the first portable clock is said to have been built into the hilt of a sword presented to King Louis XII of France;
•in the early 1500s, small clocks were inserted in the promanders and necklaces of wealthy women;
•the first known wrist watch came as a fabulous gold bracelet with pearls and emeralds for Napoleon’s wife Empress Josephine, in 1806;
•by 1990, some pocket watches were made small and shock proof enough for men to wear strapped to their wrist while working;
•the quartz clock was developed in 1929 by Canadian W.A. Marrison (it’s merits were accuracy, reliability, and silence); and
•now we have the cesium atomic clock. It costs little, lasts long, and is exceedingly precise (no more excuses for being late!).
Apparently the near-universal acceptance of the watch took enormous social pressure and relentless fixation on the technology of time. But what a success!
Just think of the many sayings we use to remind ourselves:
•Time stands still for no man.
•Time has run out.
•I’m strapped for time.
•Time is money.
•Time will tell.
•Time heals all wounds.
Sometimes it’s useful to examine these and many more sayings to test their truth and appropriateness.
People who want to manage and control their lives, and who have a lot of goals and preoccupations, want to “make the most” of time.
Those who see life as having its own value, and sometimes those who have experienced tragedy, tend to see the preciousness of time and how they use it, quite differently.
This might be an opportunity for you and me to take a “time out.” Let’s examine what is truly important in our present and future life, and lighten up with regard to time management on everything else.
Linda Wiens is a planning consultant, writer-editor, workshop and conference leader, and president of Quetico Centre.

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